Obama Ignoring Arkansas
The New York Times reports that Sen. Barack Obama has no campaign offices in Arkansas and hasn't visited the state since 2006. Even though,
Arkansas has a Democratic governor, an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature, two Democratic United States senators and three Democratic Congressional representatives out of four.
The Democratic presidential primary here drew 80,000 more voters than the Republican one. And though the state voted for President Bush in 2000 and 2004, the two previous elections went handily to its native son, Bill Clinton.
What's up with this? Is it a sign that other than the southern states with large African American populations like North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia, he's not even going to try to win southern rural voters? [More...]
But in the red-bloc South, the campaign has begun a push only in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. It has offices in several Republican-leaning states that have three electoral votes to Arkansas’s six, leaving his supporters in this state to wonder, why not here?
The likely answer:
In Arkansas, unlike other Southern states, Democrats have maintained dominance by keeping white, conservative, rural voters — the ones that need the most convincing by Mr. Obama — in the fold. Arkansas’s population is whiter than the rest of the South; it is only 16 percent black, compared with 30 percent in Georgia and 21 percent in North Carolina. Its voters are older and less educated and include fewer transplants from outside the South. Virginia has elected a black governor; Arkansas has never elected a black candidate to statewide office.
I think Obama should be trying harder, not ignoring the rural southern states. Instead, he seems to be focusing on smaller states, particularly in the West, with fewer electoral votes. I don't think Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico propel him to victory -- not without Ohio, Michigan and Florida, none of which are firmly in his camp.
Arkansas could make a difference. He has paid staff in Louisiana which will never go blue.
What about his voter registration drive in all 50 states, the one he's been raising money for along with the DNC. Shouldn't some major attention be paid to registering Arkansas voters? Apparently not.
“Arkansas is a state where persuasion, I think, is going to be a larger factor than a massive registration program,” Mr. Carson said.
Dems in Arkansas think differently:
“In the past, it’s always been going out and encouraging and begging people to register to vote,” said Tracy Steele of North Little Rock, the majority leader of the State Senate, who added that he was planning a statewide voter registration drive without waiting for the Obama campaign. “More than ever, I receive calls from people wondering, ‘Where can I register, how can I early-vote?’ ”
Obama's path to victory in the primaries was to focus on the smaller caucus states. While it worked in getting him the nomination, I have doubts that strategy will work in November when it's all about electoral votes.
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